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Press corps turns out to see lucky turkeys escape death

  • Story Highlights
  • President Bush pardoned the annual Thanksgiving turkey Tuesday
  • The turkeys -- a primary and an alternate -- are named May and Flower
  • Vice President Dick Cheney wanted to name them Lunch and Dinner, Bush said
  • Pardoning of the turkeys is a tradition entering its 60th year
  • Next Article in Politics »
By Erika Dimmler, Brianna Keilar, Suzanne Malveaux and Emily Schultze
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In this Behind the Scenes, CNN correspondents who cover the White House give a window into what it's like being a witness to history -- in this case, the president's annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As members of the White House press corps, we often get a front row seat to history. But it's normally not a mosh pit. Today's event was a little different.

President Bush delivers a full presidential pardon to the national Thanksgiving turkey in the Rose Garden.

A jampacked crowd gathered at the Rose Garden to watch President Bush pardon the annual Thanksgiving turkey.

Everyone turned out. Network correspondents? Check. Scribblers and bloggers? Doublecheck. Every still photographer who has covered the White House seemed to be there, too.

What about White House staff? Check. Even Chief of Staff Josh Bolten was there, accompanied by actor and fellow musician John Corbett.

The president announced the names of America's most famous turkeys -- a primary and an alternate -- as voted on by America.

May and Flower were the winning monikers, which, the president remarked, was "certainly better than the names the vice president suggested, which was Lunch and Dinner."

(Or, Scooter and Libby, as one member of the press corps was overheard suggesting).

May was subdued throughout most of the ceremony but managed to show a bit of gratitude with a few audible "gobble gobbles" toward the end of the president's speech, as he offered thanks for the men and women of the U.S. military. Video Watch Bush pardon the Thanksgiving turkey »

Jaded members of the press corps lined up after the ceremony to get their photo snapped with America's most famous bird.

Both turkeys then alighted onto their personal three-vehicle motorcade, complete with blaring sirens and police motorcycles, en route to Dulles airport.


Once at Dulles, they will fly first class on United Turkey One to Orlando, Florida, where May will serve -- not be served -- as Grand Marshall in Disney's Thanksgiving Day parade.

When the birds land in Orlando they will be welcomed with a red carpet reception. According to Disney's Michelle Stepney, all passengers on today's United Turkey One will be given free passes to Disney World. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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